This Date in Pirates History: January 31
On this date in 1974 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded shortstop Jackie Hernandez to the Philadelphia Phillies for catcher Mike Ryan. Hernandez had joined the Pirates in a December 2, 1970 trade that was covered here. He played three seasons for the Pirates, including the 1971 season when he became the everyday shortstop late in the year and helped lead the team to their fourth World Series title. In three years in Pittsburgh he played 214 games and hit .205 with 48 RBI’s. Ryan was 32 at the time of the trade with ten seasons in the majors already. He was strong defensively with a great arm but not much of a hitter. In fact, he had batted below .200 in six of his nine seasons(he played just one game the other season). After the trade Ryan played just 15 games all season in 1974 then became the manager of the Pirates A-ball team in Charleston for the 1975-76 seasons. Hernandez was released before he ever played a game for the Phillies. He signed with the Pirates and finished his career that 1974 season in AAA, although he did spend the next two seasons playing in Mexico.
Players, and one manager, born on this date include:
Ted Power (1955) relief pitcher for the 1990 Pirates. The Pirates signed the nine year veteran in November 1989 as a free agent. He would be 35 years old during the 1990 season, when he went 1-3 3.66 in 40 relief appearances. He threw a total of 51.2 innings and recorded seven saves. The Pirates made the playoffs that season and Powers pitched three games in the NLCS, including game six which he started, his only starting assignment all year. He would leave via free agency following the season. He pitched a total of 13 years in the majors with a 68-69 4.00 record in 564 games but that 1990 season was his only postseason experience.
Ken Gables (1919) pitcher for the 1945-47 Pirates. He spent his entire major league career with the Pirates during those three seasons. Gables had a 13-11 4.69 record in 62 games, 23 as a starter. Following the 1947 season he was traded along with two other players and cash to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League in exchange for pitcher Bob Chesnes. Gables spent a total of ten seasons in the minors and compiled a 68-96 4.01 record in 350 games.
Donald Songer (1899) lefty pitcher for the 1924-27 Pirates. He pitched a total of 49 games for the Pirates, 16 as a starter, over four seasons. He was a member of two Pittsburgh clubs that went to the World Series but did not participate in either postseason. Most of his playing time with the team came during the 1926 season when he made 15 starts and 20 relief appearances. He had a 7-8 3.13 record that year in 126.1 innings. The Pirates sold him to the Giants on May 9, 1927 and he finished his major league career that season throwing another 22 games for New York. Songer won a total of 99 games over eight minor league seasons, which included a high of 31 wins for the Enid Harvesters of the Western Association in 1922.
Stuffy Stewart (1894) second baseman for the 1922 Pirates. He played parts of eight majors league seasons, that took place over a 14 year time period. He first played 12 games for the Cardinals in the 1916-17 seasons, didn’t play during 1918 then spent the next three seasons in the minors. He started the first three games of the season at second base for the 1922 Pirates, going 2-13 with two errors before he was sent to the minors. The Brooklyn Robins took him in the rule 5 draft once the season was over. He hit .238 in 176 major league games with 74 runs scored, 18 RBI’s and 21 stolen bases.
Jot Goar (1870) pitcher for the 1896 Pirates. He made his major league debut three games into the 1896 season with the Pirates in relief. He would pitch only three games that year, all in relief. He lost one and in 13.1 innings he would give up 36 hits, eight walks, hit a batter and allow 33 runs to score. His 16.88 ERA with the Pirates is the second highest in team history for any pitcher with more than five innings pitched. He only pitched one other game in the majors, a two inning relief appearance for the Reds on May 1, 1898. One of Goar’s relief appearances for the Pirates was on May 20th, when he pitched the last six innings of a 25-6 loss to Brooklyn in Pittsburgh. The Pirates manager Connie Mack told Goar to lob the ball over the plate, allowing the Brooklyn hitters to pile up runs. The reason was that the game was already 6-0 Brooklyn and it started to downpour. The Pirates were trying to stall, hoping for the game to be called before five innings were played and the game was official. The move backfired when the weather cleared and by the end of the fifth, they were already down 17-0. Details of that game can be found here under the bio for Charlie Hastings, who was making his first major league start that day.
Al Buckenberger (1861) manager for the 1892-94 Pirates. He took over for manager Tom Burns 60 games into the 1892 season with the Pirates record standing at 27-32. He would turn the team around, finishing with a 53-41 record the rest of the way. In 1893 he led the team to their best finish since joining the NL, going 81-48, good enough for second place, five games behind Brooklyn. The team’s .628 winning percentage that year is the sixth best in franchise history. The record next year however was a disappointing 53-55 when he lost his job to the team’s catcher, Connie Mack. For Mack, it was the start of a 53 year career as a manager. Buckenberger had managed for two seasons in the majors prior to joining the Pirates and then added another four seasons afterwards. He also managed for six seasons in the minors and was a minor league player for four seasons as well.
Bob Ferguson (1845) Utility fielder for the 1884 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He was a star baseball player before the first major league was organized in 1871. Ferguson was 26 years old before the National Association was formed in 1871, and 31 years old before the National League first played a game. In fact, the schedules were so short during the era he played in, that he played 824 major league games over 14 seasons and twice led the league in games played. His major league totals, not surprisingly, don’t look like those of a star player, but the man they nicknamed “Death to Flying Things” was one of the best fielders of his time(he mostly played third base) and he could handle the bat too. He is regarded by most as the first switch-hitter in baseball, a lifetime .265 hitter with 357 RBI’s and 544 runs scored. By the time he joined the Alleghenys, he was at the end of his career, already 39 years old, the oldest player in the majors at the time. Ferguson played ten games for Pittsburgh, seeing time at four different spots. He hit just .146, with six singles in 41 AB’s. He managed for parts or all of 16 seasons in the majors, including an 11-31 record as the second of five managers the 1884 Alleghenys had that season. The only home run Ferguson hit in his major league career, came off another great nickname in baseball history, Ed “The Only” Nolan, who wanted to be the only starting pitcher for the team he was on.